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Frankfurter Allgemeine, 12/2013

The whipping boy

Dr. rer. nat. Holger Brackemann is a very engaging man who looks much younger than he certainly is. May be this is due to the fact that the Divisional Director Testing of Stiftung Warentest (the German foundation for comparative product testing) is an avid cyclist. The fact that Brackemann is also a diplomat proved correct beginning of last week in a discussion at the members’ general meeting of the German service and bicycle association (VSF). 

Against overwhelming predominance, i.e. surrounded by critics - all experts in their field - in the panel discussion and in the audience, he didn’t come out too bad: Obliging in tone, but uncompromising on the matter, always maintaining the position of his house, that is to say against the complaint presented in various ways and the central issue of which was formulated by an auditor as follows: "Why could you not just admit that you produce mistakes which do not occur in practice?" 

For months now, there was and is a big stir about the test of e-bikes published in the June issue, and that in view of the fact that the next pedelec test is already approaching. Really new things in the matter could hardly come out of the discussion. Its acquisition of knowledge served only the purpose of showing the complexity of the conflict. On the one hand it’s about the test procedures: How is load applied on a bicycle as a whole and its parts that the results reflect realistic facts. The critics state that the testers working on behalf of Stiftung Warentest are apparently lacking bicycle know-how. A certified test institute has the necessary competence argues the speaker of Stiftung Warentest. It must be possible to correctly interpret laboratory results and to check them against experiences in practice, instead of working them up in sensational journalism, demand the critics among the VSF members. 

The next pedelec test for which the advisory committee, invited by Stiftung Warentest, will come together in December will be conducted with a new testing program. This program will also test insufficient riding stability, Brackemann replied. The next advisory committee will also be attended by a representative of the VSF dealers as well as by test engineer Dirk Zedler who had sharply criticised the testing methods in the panel discussion: "The appropriate, flexible mounting costs a lot of money. With such a fix mounting, as arranged by Stiftung Warentest – for financial reasons? – I entrust my trainee." The most interesting point was reached when it came to the unused experiences of the dealers and when Brackemann suggested a damage database: "We are interested in your experiences", he assured towards the end of these almost two hours which had certainly not been easy for him. 

Read more at: www.faz.net/vsf

Author: Hans-Heinrich Pardey

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